A man who burned a rainbow flag outside the home of a lesbian couple has been let off with probation.
Cameron Mayfield of Omaha, Nebraska had been facing hate crime charges over the bizarre incident, which took place in March 2015.
The man hopped a fence to get to the home of his neighbours, married lesbian couple Ariann Anderson and Jessica Meadows-Anderson, before yanking down the flag that was flying from their house.
Mayfield then took the flag to his garage, drenched it in gasoline, set it alight, and returned to the couple’s house where he waved it in the air.
The pair called the police and Mayfield was arrested and later found guilty of third-degree arson motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.
However, the judge let the man off with two years of probation in sentencing this week.
The sentence is well below the maximum limit for the arson and hate crime charge, which could have even carried a prison sentence.
His attorney James Martin Davis previously described the flag-burning ass a ‘drunken prank’, and claimed that Mayfield did not know the women were gay or what the flag stood for.
He contended: “Just because the victims are gay doesn’t make it a hate crime.”
However, the pair said they were deliberately targeted due to their sexuality.
They said in a statement: “The intent really does make the difference.
“Watching him run toward our house with our burning flag, seeing him stop & wave that burning symbol of a controversial, & inherent part of our being(s) as a minority, in front of our house as a clear message, made it scary.
“That made it an attack as opposed to a prank.”
The prosecutor also pointed out the pre-meditated nature of the crime, given the multiple steps involved.
He said: “He took all those steps to get this done. His actions were too purposeful to not be targeting this couple and that item.